Lerwick Closes Record Season, Traffic Up 78 Percent

Meraviglia in Lerwick

Lerwick Harbour closed its 2018 cruise season this week with 91 vessels and a 78 percent increase in guests, with 90,336 passengers visiting the Shetland port since mid-March.

The final scheduled ship of 2018, Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ Marco Polo, was forced by poor North Sea weather to by-pass the port on Thursday, Oct. 11, while en route from Torshavn, Faroe, to Kirkwall, Orkney.

The season included 11 maiden calls highlighted by the MSC Meraviglia in July, the biggest-ever ship to dock at Lerwick. She was joined in port on the same day by Hapag-Lloyd's ultra-luxury Europa.

Victor Sandison, Lerwick Port Authority’s Senior Commercial Executive, said: “A great team effort by everyone involved in Shetland has meant another very successful cruise season and helped ensure we are on even more itineraries in 2019. Local providers have risen to the challenge of servicing the extra demands.

“In a rapidly expanding global market, with another 90 vessels on order over the next five years, there is increasing requirement for special places to visit and the growing popularity of Shetland and its many attractions as a top destination augurs well for the future.

“There are 115 vessels, including 12 maiden calls, booked so far for 2019, up 25% on 2018, with passenger numbers approaching 92,000. Highlights will include a call by Cunard’s Queen Victoria in July.”

With vessel sizes increasing, the Port Authority’s future plans include possible dredging to increase capacity alongside, and a longer-term outlook to create a new deep-water berth in the town center to be used by cruise ships, according to a statement. 

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